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Staff give mental health training to RAF personnel

Posted: 18/08/20

A local NHS Trust has demonstrated the importance of talking about mental health to army personnel.

The Gateway Recovery College within Secure Care Services at Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) provided training at a health and wellbeing event at RAF Spadeadam in Cumbria last week.

Organised by Warrant Officer Scott Andrews, the event included a range of activities, team work and mindfulness to drive conversations around mental health.

Danny Cain, a peer supporter at CNTW, talked to administration staff, RAF technicians, senior officers and fire wardens about the role of a peer supporter. He also delivered WRAP (Wellness Action Recovery Plan) training and an addiction awareness session as part of the two-day event.

Danny said: “I was thrilled to be able to share my experiences with army personnel. Being in the forces can be an extremely stressful job and I hope that by telling my story I can instil hope in others and encourage them to talk.”

Peer supporters help service users during their care and treatment. They draw on their own lived experiences to share insight, understanding, compassion and empathy with others on their journey to recovery. Peer supporters work to challenge stigma and promote hope and recovery, helping other members of staff in their understanding of what it’s like to be a service user.

Lynn Williams, Recovery and Engagement Lead, said: “It was a wonderful opportunity for our Secure Services to share our knowledge and experience. We are very proud to have been able to support the Armed Forces.”

Following the event, Danny and Lynn were approached by many of the participants wanting to openly discuss their own mental health concerns and how they felt developing a WRAP plan would support them in addressing those concerns.

Feedback of the event has been positive, with one participant saying: “It was inspirational to hear somebody who has experience with mental health issues share their knowledge.”

RAF Spadeadam is the only Electronic Warfare Tactics facility in Europe where aircrews can practise manoeuvres and tactics against a variety of threats and targets that they face in contemporary warfare.

The facility attracts aircraft from the RAF, Royal Navy, British Army and NATO Forces. It is also the largest RAF Station (by land area) covering 9,600 acres, and run by a small team of RAF personnel, civil servants and contractors.

Warrant Officer Scott Andrews said: “Having served as an RAF Regiment Gunner for 31 years I have experienced various situations where a WRAP plan would have been greatly beneficial. I have no doubt that many of the individuals who attended the WRAP training will benefit from it in the future.

“Even if only one person uses the WRAP session then it will have been a worthwhile event. My thanks go to Lynn and Danny for agreeing to support our event and we look forward to hosting a visit for service users when it is safe to do so.”

The Recovery College provides a safe space where people can connect, gain knowledge and develop skills. It promotes recovery through peer-led education and activities with collaboration between mental health service providers and organisations.

CNTW is a leading provider of mental health and disability services in the North East and north Cumbria.